Obliterating the Unthinkable Horror of Winterkill

Posted by on November 10, 2009 at 9:48 pm :: No Comments

Evergreens stay green all winter, thus their name and appeal. However, last year I discovered that there are no guarantees on that whole green through the winter bit. Evergreens often undergo negative changes during the winter known as winterkill. When winterkill occurs the leaves or needles on certain parts of the plant turn yellow or brown, this is especially common for branches that get the full brunt of the wind.
I’ve never heard of an Everyellow or an Everbrown, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be big sellers, which is why I wasn’t pleased when parts of several of my evergreens turned brown over last winter. The poor things looked pretty pathetic come spring with their dead pieces, like the plant versions of balding men. Hence, I decided that this winter will be different. There will be no winterkill! Extremely spoiled plants, such as mine, should never have to suffer that humiliation and discomfort!

Here I am giving a euonymous some lovely mulch.

Here I am giving a euonymous some lovely mulch.

However, before I could attempt to halt winterkill I had to figure out exactly what caused it. Here’s what I found out: Although evergreens don’t really enjoy the freezing temperatures of winter, what they really can’t stand is how thirsty they become during that frigid season. Yes, evergreen winterkill is primarily caused by plants drying out, cold dry wind intensifies this problem, and therefore the sides of plants facing the wind typically have more issues. My skin’s so dry it could be mistaken for a snake’s during winter; it makes sense that plants have similar problems.

It was a cold day for mulching. Jason turned on the patio heater to warm me up.

It was a cold day for mulching. Jason turned on the patio heater to warm me up.

The solution? Mulching and monthly watering through the frosty season. I honestly had no idea what “mulch” was until I bought some for this purpose. Evidentially there are different types of mulch but the kind I bought was basically just little pieces of bark. To “mulch” you place a 2 or 3 inch thick ring of mulching material around your plant. (Don’t put mulch right next to the bark of a plant; they don’t like that.) The mulch helps keep the soil temperature more constant and retains water, kind of like a nice wet blanket. Now doesn’t that sound comfy? As for watering monthly during winter…yeah…that seems like it will be a really fun task but I am going to give it a try. I hope my efforts will make a big difference. I will report on my success this spring. Here’s to some snug, moist, and happy plants! Bring on the green!

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